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Senate vote on Gaza resolution
Author: Prof Wim de Villiers
Published: 03/05/2024

​​Dear colleagues and students

Stellenbosch University (SU) respects and upholds the principles of safety and freedom of association as enshrined in our national Constitution. In this spirit, we support our academic and student communities in expressing their views peacefully and engaging in constructive discussions within the boundaries of University policies and the law. 
The University confirms that its Senate did not pass a resolution on the Israel-Palestine crisis. The motion was themed “Proposed resolution for Stellenbosch University Senate on the Genocide and Destruction of Scholarship and Education in Gaza”.
Senate held a special meeting on Tuesday, 30 April 2024 to discuss the motion after it had been tabled at a scheduled meeting in March. Senate voted 80 for and 101 against the motion, and 18 abstained. 
The proposed resolution read:

Stellenbosch University Senate therefore resolves as follows:  

  1. Call for an immediate ceasefire and the cessation on attacks on civilians in Gaza and Israel, the passage of humanitarian aid and the return of all captives including the safe return of hostages captured by Hamas, *and including the safe return of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons.​  

  2. Condemn the destruction of the education sector in Gaza and the massive scale of killing of teachers and university staff in the current war. 

  3. Urge the international community to ensure that the provision of humanitarian aid includes the restoration of the education sector in Gaza.  

  4. Express our concern and opposition to any attempts to curtail academic freedom by labelling criticism of Israel or Zionist policies as antisemitism. 

  5. Reject the definition of antisemitism by the IHRA. 

  6. Express our support for academic colleagues in Gaza who are surviving under appalling conditions and our intention to assist in the rebuilding of the academic sector after the war. 

  7. Express our solidarity with academic colleagues victimised for their willingness to speak out against the educaracide in Gaza.

While the resolution was not passed by the majority of Senate, SU recognises that the Israel-Palestine crisis affects our community, and as such, it therefore emphasises that our institution stands firmly for the principles of peace, respect for human rights, freedom of expression, and the principles of International Humanitarian Law. As a leading university in Africa, SU acknowledges the importance of academic freedom, sharing knowledge and views in times of crisis and upholding platforms for the exchange of diverse perspectives, both within and beyond our academic community. We are committed to supporting and fostering environments where all viewpoints can be heard.

SU expresses deep empathy with all those who suffer, directly and indirectly, as a result of the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

The SU Rectorate also affirms that all academic discourse at Stellenbosch University takes place within the framework of the values of the University, namely excellence, compassion, accountability, respect and equity. This is also the basis for hosting and participating in conferences, webinars and networks; and for maintaining collaborative partnerships across the globe.

Our commitment to academic excellence and the well-being of our community is unwavering. We will continue to uphold these principles while navigating the complexities of this issue and other global challenges. 

Click here to read the isiXhosa mailer. 

Prof Wim de Villiers
Rector and Vice-Chancellor

*The original message to staff and students did not include the phrase “and including the safe return of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons" – an amendment that was made at the Senate meeting.